pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: October 2015

31 October 2015

Made it

Austin, Texas
31 October 2015

30 October 2015

Due to unforeseen circumstances...

Red sky
Orange County, California
14 October 2015

So at 4pm, Southworst Airlines called to tell me that they'd cancelled our flight to Austin. Naturally, I was thrilled. You could tell by the way I was screaming at the top of my lungs.

D., far calmer than me, was texting suggestions, and once I'd calmed down and gathered an iota of composure, I started working the Internets, just like I did in September 2014, when Southwest cancelled my flight to Austin.

(Yeah, Southwest, we're done. Especially since your customer "service" was so thrilled to be helping me after I waited 25 minutes to talk to her.)

And once again, D. (and American Airlines) saved the day. We'll miss the Saturday screening of the Young Filmmakers Program, but the daughter and I will be in attendance Sunday, as will D. Come hell or high water (and apparently, the latter has been quite likely).

And we'll still have Halloween in Austin. Thanks to D. (and my frequent flyer miles).

In other news, the daughter drove herself to school today. First time ever.

Just one heart attack after another!

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
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29 October 2015

Sundog's fire

Santa Monica, California
24 October 2015

Flights have long been booked (which is good, because tomorrow), but I've still been dithering with some of the hotel bookings. Finally, made a reservation at one of my favorite DC hotels (which is good, because next week). I often stay at the conference center, which is apparently currently serving as a dorm. Not good. So hotel.

Those who will be left behind are sulking. He who will be feted is smirking.

And today, I had filmmakers! Not unusual, of course. Just today, rather inconvenient. Especially after two days of knocking down six feet of hedge. From a ladder. At which point, my back said, "sit down or I'll knock you down."


But film festival. And frivolity.

Wait, didn't I already write all this?

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
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23 October 2015

On your mark...

Alleviating my boredom
Orange, California
23 October 2015

Something like this:

Wedding (bonus hours in the car with person I cannot stand. I can't wait.)

Austin (bonus hours with D.! Yippee! I can't wait!)

D.C. (bonus hours with my eldest. He can't wait. Especially when I make him go suit shopping. But he enjoys it when I feed him and I usually feed him well at nice places.)

And wow, was the end of that ball game sad. But where one door closes, new adventures open up.

So it goes.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. I was going to add a label "taking the pulse of the readership" because yeah. That too.
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21 October 2015

Cats, baseball and tomorrow night's dinner

21 October 2015

Milton has been very confused this autumn because the light is changing but the temperatures aren't. We're still spiking over 80 and sometimes 90F (though I've actually been able to open the windows for the last couple of days). He thinks it should be cold and that he should take advantage of my lap every opportunity it's in evidence. Which it usually isn't because I'm running around doing something.

Today, I sat for a moment to watch the start of the ALCS game, and he immediately plopped himself on top of me. So I told him that I'd take photos of him until he went away. He took a bath on my lap instead. If you have cats, you know this means you end up covered in fur.

Fortunately, today's game was better than yesterday's and I was live texting the daughter again (as in "5-0 haha") while she was at school.

Eventually, Milton decided that it was in fact too hot to sleep on my lap, so he went elsewhere and I started making palak paneer for tomorrow's dinner (it was chicken souvlaki tonight. We're so international) after careful cat hair removal (packing tape. Works wonders). I was so busy watching the game while I was chopping jalapeno, that I really wasn't paying enough attention to what I was doing until I noticed the skin on my forehead was tingling and burning. Fortunately, I didn't rub my eyes because that would have been really ugly. I finished the jalapeno, and thoroughly washed my hands.

That game ended well (poor Cubs). The house smelled delicious. Milton sat in the window and screamed at his nemesis, Olivier.

So went the afternoon.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
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20 October 2015


Ieper (Ypres), Belgium
10 July 2012

Although I had about a thousand other things to do today, I spent a great deal of time staring at 3 photos of the spouse's great uncle. I've stared at those photos before, over the course of the nearly 30 years since they first came to my attention. I've heard stories, mainly how he was beloved by his younger sister, the spouse's grandmother. How, after he was lost, her life was never quite the same.

For almost 30 years, I've stared at those photos, and marveled over this man's beauty. He was a stunningly handsome man. I've wondered at those photos, and pity tugged at me, because his story, like so many of that time, is so utterly tragic.

Lost, strayed, stolen. Like so many of his generation.

When we were in Belgium three years ago, I couldn't help but think of him. Because like so many of his generation, he was there, somewhere. He, like so many others, is lost. Truly lost. He died on a battlefield and was never found again. For all any of us know, the "unknown warrior" on the left is him.

We were talking about him last night and about a newspaper article I happened on about the discovery of an almost perfectly preserved World War I trench. The spouse was outraged that no family members of the trench's occupants had appeared for their interment.

"Most of them were young men," I told him. "They likely died without issue. No children, no heirs."

Like his great uncle. Who probably died before his 21st birthday. Died younger than my own son, his great great nephew, is now.

I don't know anything about the kind of man he was. I only know that he was loved by his teenaged sister. I know that he stood proudly in his uniform. I can't explain why I feel that he deserves to be remembered, why he should be more than a line in a old book and three photos. Perhaps it's because I look at him, and think about my own brothers and my own cousins who fought in wars. Because I know the kind of men they are and were: proud, honorable, dedicated, and conflicted about fighting. Because had they been lost, they would have been worthy of remembrance. Perhaps it's because I remember standing at the Menin Gate and reading all the names of the lost, and weeping for each of the families behind those names while a group of school children sang "O Canada."

Perhaps it's just because war is so wrong and seems so inevitable and no one ever wins.

Spurred on by the spouse, I started to look. I found his entry in the massive casualty list published by the Germans in 1917. I started to reconstruct. He had a combat ribbon awarded by the duchy of his birth, so we know he saw more than one battle. We have numbers that are still meaningless. Was he an NCO or officer candidate?

Does it matter that I find him, a young man who disappeared 100 years ago? Technically, no. The sister who loved him so died 25 years ago. Of the children she had, one has died, one wouldn't understand, and the youngest is now 80, so there is no imperative there.

But his story, however brief, interests me, and I think, the spouse. And it grieves me to think that his entire life has been boiled down to a single line in a book, punctuated at the end by "vermisst."

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. When I was young and the world didn't carry shades of grey, it was very easy to determine who was good and who was bad. Then I grew up, and learned that there is good and bad on every side. It's amazing how this perspective both complicates and uncomplicates life. People are people.

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15 October 2015

Problems that can't be solved (and baseball)

Let sleeping cats lie
11 September 2015

Yesterday, I had a doctor's appointment early afternoon. Typically, I skipped lunch, and then arrived home afterward starving (but with a sandwich in tow). I was fairly agitated when I got home (doctor's office, hungry), and decided that rather than working through lunch, I'd flip on the Texas-Toronto game while I ate.  The seventh was just starting.

Do I actually need to say anything else?

I forgot the sandwich pretty quickly. I can only imagine how loud it was inside that dome with booing fans and the rain of cans and bottles.

I texted the daughter: "Are you watching the Jays game?"

Daughter: "No!!!!! Where is it?????"

Me: "Try the student union. Probably on one of the big TVs."

Daughter: "Got it!!"

Me: "7th was WHACK."

Daughter: "What happened?"

Me: "Hard to explain by text. Weird ass calls; 2 bench clearers."

Daughter: "WAT?"

Me: "Game tied 2-2. Weird call with Choo; Odor scored a very controversial run...Under review for like 1/2 an hour. I thought Gibbons would be tossed...Fans throwing stuff on the field; practically a riot."

Daughter: "Woah."

Me: "Bottom of 7th, Andrus dropped the ball 3 times on routine plays...bases loaded...Pompey comes in to pinch run and takes out Tx catcher...Play under review, benches clear, fans throwing stuff on the field..."

Daughter: "Ruh roh, was he hurt?"

Me: "No one hurt. One run scores. Tied 3-3. Bautista comes in and hits 3-run homer."

The game ends at that point.

Daughter: "They're so excited. N they just can't hide it. Omg, Bautista's reaction to his home run tho..."

We watched highlight reels all evening.

(So I still stand by Toronto in the Series, but St. Louis got itself eliminated. Cubs would be pretty awesome. Not sure that the Dodgers have the staying power, but I'd love to see Howie Kendrick get a ring--one in the eye for you, Arte Moreno. Not that I'm vindictive. And you know, the Angels can get a new GM, dump Baylor and Butcher as coaches, but the one who really needs to go is Arte. Not that I have an opinion.)

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. Yes, I understand the rule and how it was applied in the case of Choo/Odor. So technically the right call, but really? And what the hell was up with Dyson? And who knew Cole Hamels was so hot? And ANDRUS? I felt so badly for him, though I was happy Toronto won (sorry, D). For the record, I have loathed Arte Moreno since he decided to rename the team. I still hold out hope that they will go back to being the California Angels--or even the Anaheim Angels--once Arte finally recognizes the teeth of karma in his rear and sells up. Not that I have an opinion.

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12 October 2015

How many times...?

Orange, California
18 September 2015

"Drive away into the setting sun," the daughter sang as she got into the car this morning. "EVEN THOUGH I CAN'T DRIVE!"

I cocked an eyebrow at her as I pulled away from the curb. She was in an inordinately good mood for someone hobbling around in an immobilization brace.

She leaned over to check my odometer (which was sitting at 67,000 when we left the house this morning).

"You've already driven 35 miles today," she frowned. "And it's only 11 am."

I declined to comment.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. Go listen to some good music: "We Hold On" from the album Snakes and Arrows by Rush. My rule with regard to blogging has always been to let the words go and lock up the editor. Lately, however, I've been editing posts down to nothingness. Too much happening behind the scenes that has become almost untenable. Driven to the edge of a deep, dark hole, which is another song altogether.

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10 October 2015

Songs of bravado and courage

South Coast sunset
Costa Mesa, California
13 September 2015

I have been systematically destroying my journals over the course of the last year or so. A thousand pages into the shredder. It is both a relief and a sadness, but I find myself carefully considering what I want to leave behind. Not that I have to actively worry at this point, but it is a consideration.

And I found the line that I used the as the title in one entry.

I've been keeping a journal for about 40 years (yes, I did start really young, which probably helps to explain why I'm a fairly disciplined writer), and it occurred to me that what I've written in those decades are in fact songs of bravado and a courage as I've tried to understand myself and the world around me. And there's been a great deal of fussing as I tried to come to terms with certain occurrences in the last decade in particular, though I think I've finally made my peace with that.

Mostly, anyway. Except on the days when I haven't.


Travel, arrival.

I've worked out the details of the Austin trip the daughter and I are taking at the end of the month. Her film is screening twice, so I had to maneuver around that, but it's all set. She may be off crutches by then.

And as it turns out, I'll be leaving both the spouse and the daughter to their own devices and heading to D.C. the first week of November. Then with cleaned up cameras that I know how to operate (she says sternly to herself), I'm heading out to Death Valley to do stuff. I am renting a Jeep. To go with my cameras.

Now if that isn't a song of bravado...

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.

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04 October 2015

Don't be alarmed

Only a Test
Orange, California
25 September 2015

No, the Angels didn't make the post season. I didn't expect them to. As a team, they were pretty abysmal this year. Yes, Trout was generally awesome, as was Pujols, Johnny G, Freese when he was healthy, Heaney, Cron, Calhoun, shall I go on? But there were front office distractions, bad preseason trades (...all the stuff I edited out...)


I expect that we will be seeing Toronto versus St. Louis.


Daughter has been sentenced to physical therapy, and her orthopedic surgeon thinks at the moment that surgery will be unnecessary. So amidst the bad, some good news. And I discovered that I actually wrote someone that I will have to drive her to school for another six months rather than the more likely six weeks. Hell of a Freudian slip there.


I just finished Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life, and yup, this is a case where all the hype is completely warranted. It's a beautifully written novel even if it's 5000 pages or whatever long (though never boring), and it is sad and funny and moving, and about friendship and identity and love and the impact that every little life has on the little lives around it. No, it's not perfect; one story line goes rather overboard, but I didn't find it difficult to overlook this even though I am not fond of being bludgeoned. I never highlight what I'm reading, but I found myself highlighting whole paragraphs--I identified quite a lot with one character in particular. I'm not sure that I necessarily would tell everyone to read it--parts are just devastating--but I thought it was a tour de force.


Everyone knows I'm not big on watching TV unless I'm on the recumbent bike, and even then, I'd rather watch movies. I tried watching The Bastard Executioner (just no. Too much gratuitous violence and too little actual story) and Fear the Walking Dead (please, please, please may all those hateful people be eaten tonight so the season finale becomes the series finale).

On the other hand, I really liked Deutschland 83 and I have one episode left of Mr. Robot, which I've enjoyed though it was pretty obvious what was going on from the start. As for movies, I finally watched Chinatown because the daughter had to watch it for school, and holy mackerel, talk about topical. We also watched A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, which had a lot to recommend it, especially visually, and I thoroughly enjoyed Frequencies, though the daughter didn't.

I have a huge watchlist but there just hasn't been time.


It's a new week. Aren't you happy?

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.

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01 October 2015

At least it's a pretty day

Orange, California
1 October 2015

I'm not sure when Hipstamatic got something that shoots tilt shift (or when I did), but it was weirdly effective. I was just goofing around while I was waiting for the daughter. Seems like I did a lot of that today, when I wasn't driving around in circles looking for a place to park (rapidly becoming the story of my life), or stopping in red zones to haul her out of the car.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.

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